Raleigh, NC Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer
Raleigh Chapter 7 Lawyers
Filing for bankruptcy is a last resort for most people. However, the government has set up this process to allow individuals to get out of under-crushing debt and start fresh. Individuals typically file either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, depending on what type of debt they have and what their goals are for their assets.
At the Sasser Law Firm, our board-certified Raleigh bankruptcy attorneys will review the circumstances of your case for free so you can decide whether Chapter 7 is right for you. People often choose to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy because:
- Chapter 7 cases usually take less time.
- This type of bankruptcy costs less in fees.
- People are able to rebuild credit quicker after a Chapter 7.
For more than 20 years, our Raleigh Chapter 7 lawyers have been helping individuals and families navigate the bankruptcy process and get the clean slate they need to move forward with their lives. Contact our law firm today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our knowledgeable Raleigh, NC bankruptcy attorneys will be upfront with you about your options, including discussing alternatives to filing for bankruptcy.
What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as “liquidation” because a debtor’s nonexempt assets are sold off, or liquidated, to pay off as much of their debt as possible. In order to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debtors must meet strict income requirements.
People who qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be relieved of a majority of their debts. Known as a “discharge” of debt, this relief is ordered by the court and releases debtors from certain (but not all) obligations, including:
- Debts from credit cards and store accounts
- Unpaid medical bills
- Deficiency balances after the sale of a foreclosed home or a repossessed car
- Unsecured personal loans
- Trade or vendor debt
- Personal liability from the guarantee of another person or entity’s debt
- Certain tax obligations
Not all debt is discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, though. Debtors are still on the hook for:
- Student loan debt
- Marital and domestic obligations
- Some types of tax debt
- Criminal restitution payments
- Any debt that was incurred through fraud
- Debt that was incurred due to willful and malicious injury
- Debt that was incurred by defalcation of fiduciary duty
Information Our Raleigh, NC Bankruptcy Lawyers Need from You to Get Started
Most of the people we work with have never needed a bankruptcy attorney before, so we take the time to sit down with you and explain what to expect. Whether you are facing a financial emergency or are just looking for information, our attorneys can help you decide what your next steps should be.
Because filing for any type of bankruptcy requires a lot of paperwork and documentation, we suggest that you have as much information as possible on hand for our initial meeting. This will help us accurately assess your situation and allow us to move as quickly as possible to seek relief from creditors. Some of the information we will need from you includes:
- All sources of income, including the amount and frequency of payments
- A list of all assets
- A list of creditors, as well as the amount you owe each of them
- A list of monthly living expenses (such as food, shelter, utilities, medication, etc.)
In addition to discussing the bankruptcy process with you, our Raleigh Chapter 7 attorneys will try to identify any alternatives that you may want to consider. Our goal is to do what’s best for you, including steering you away from bankruptcy if we think you can avoid it. Schedule a free consultation with our legal team today.
Process for Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Raleigh
When you meet with our team to talk about filing for Chapter 7, the first step will be to determine whether you meet the income requirements, which are based on North Carolina’s median income level. Our lawyers will help you apply the Chapter 7 “means test” to decide whether you qualify. (If you do not qualify for Chapter 7, we can assess whether Chapter 13 may be a better option for you.)
After the initial income evaluation, our attorneys will walk you through the next steps in the bankruptcy process:
- You will need to complete credit counseling. You will need to present the court with a certificate to show you have completed this mandatory counseling.
- Your attorney will file a bankruptcy petition with the court. This filing will trigger an “automatic stay,” which stops creditors from harassing you.
- Your lawyer will gather and file additional documentation outlining your income and expenses, assets and liabilities, etc. You will also be required to file a copy of your tax return with the court.
- A bankruptcy trustee will be appointed to sell off your nonexempt assets and oversee your case. The trustee is charged with using the proceeds from the sale of assets to pay unsecured creditors.
- The trustee will hold a 341 meeting, also known as a meeting of creditors. This meeting should take place 21 to 40 days after your petition is filed. Your attorney will go with you to this meeting, where you will answer questions about your finances under oath.
- In a majority of cases, the court will issue a discharge order. A discharge order frees a person from most debts. It also stops creditors from pursuing you. The court typically issues a discharge order 60 to 90 days after the 341 meeting.
Most of the Chapter 7 cases we handle move through the process smoothly. However, our dedicated Raleigh Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers are litigators who are always ready to fight for clients if trouble arises. We have extensive experience converting Chapter 7 cases to Chapter 13, when necessary, and we will work quickly to keep your bankruptcy case moving forward.
Exempt Property in North Carolina
The idea of watching a bankruptcy trustee sell off your property is disturbing. Fortunately, individuals filing for Chapter 7 are allowed a wide variety of property exemptions in North Carolina, which may help protect much of your property.
Common exemptions include:
- The homestead exemption protects up to $35,000 in equity (or more in some cases) for property used as a residence.
- A burial plot exemption can protect up to $35,000 in equity if the homestead exemptions isn’t taken.
- A vehicle exemption, up to $3,500, may be used if you bought your car more than 90 days before filing your petition for bankruptcy.
- Certain personal property such as furniture, appliances, and clothing may be exempt. You may take $5,000 for personal property exemptions, as well as $1,000 in personal property exemptions per dependent (up to $4,000).
- A professional tool exemption may protect up to $2,000 in tools and other equipment you use for work.
- Unpaid wages are exempt if they were earned 60 days before your bankruptcy filing.
- Government benefits such as unemployment pay, workers’ comp benefits, VA benefits, future Social Security payments, etc., are considered exempt.
- Child support, alimony, and separate maintenance payments may be exempt if you can prove that they are necessary.
- Retirement and pensions are typically exempt.
- Life insurance for the benefit of your spouse or children would be exempt. Employee group life insurance would also be exempt.
- Personal injury claim compensation is exempt in most cases, as long as you do not have debt related to the personal injury case, such as doctor bills.
Talk to an experienced Raleigh Chapter 7 lawyer today about what of your property may be considered exempt when filing for bankruptcy. Our knowledgeable attorneys will take inventory of all your assets and talk you through all your options for getting a fresh start.
Reasons a Chapter 7 Discharge May Be Denied
About 99 percent of individuals are granted a discharge in Chapter 7 cases (excluding cases that are dismissed or converted to Chapter 13). However, there are a few reasons that a court would deny a Chapter 7 discharge, including:
- The debtor could not produce acceptable financial records.
- The debtor did not explain a loss of assets adequately for the court.
- The debtor is found to have committed a bankruptcy crime.
- The debtor committed fraud to protect property that should have been liquidated.
Don’t put your future at risk by making mistakes that could seriously hurt your case. Contact us today to set up a free bankruptcy case consultation. You are under no pressure to work with us after this consultation, but you will leave with a much better understanding of your options.
How Can Our Raleigh Chapter 7 Lawyers Help You?
At the Sasser Law Firm, our compassionate bankruptcy attorneys have dedicated our careers to helping individuals, families, and businesses start over financially. Our law firm takes a straightforward approach to evaluating cases, and we will be honest if we feel there are steps you could take to avoid bankruptcy.
Over the years, our firm has helped more than 8,500 people and businesses file for bankruptcy in Raleigh. Our board-certified attorneys work directly with clients, and we accept both time-sensitive and complex cases.
Schedule a free consultation with our Raleigh bankruptcy lawyers today to discuss your case. Our attorneys work with clients throughout North Carolina, including in Wake, Harnett, Johnston, Durham, Orange, Granville, Vance, Franklin, Warren, Nash, Lee, Chatham, and Moore counties.